In 1982, Atari Inc. released a port of Namco's hit arcade game Pac-Man for its Atari 2600 video game console. Like the original arcade version, the player controls the titular character with a joystick. The object is to traverse a maze, consuming all the wafers within while avoiding four ghosts.
The game was programmed by Tod Frye, who was given a limited time frame by Atari to complete the project. The technical differences between the Atari 2600 console and the original's arcade hardware—particularly the amount of available memory—presented several challenges to Frye. Given the popularity of the property, Atari produced 12 million units (which was more than the number of Atari 2600 consoles sold at the time), anticipating a high number of sales.
While the port is the best selling Atari 2600 game of all time, sold 7 million copies, and was the best-selling home video game of all time when it was released, it was critically panned, with customers returning the game in large quantities. Critics focused on the gameplay and audio-visual differences from the arcade version. Initially, the port boosted the video game industry's presence in retail, but has since been cited as a contributing factor to the North American video game crash of 1983. It was followed by Atari 2600 ports of Pac-Man's arcade sequels.